Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Ceisteanna (531, 532, 533, 534)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

531. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the exact conservation limits for the River Nore; the exact number of salmon which were estimated to have entered the river in 2018; the projected number of salmon to enter the river in 2019; the way in which the numbers are trending as a result of the extensive information used to determine the number of salmon entering the system, in terms of numbers improving or declining and the rate; the estimated future date for the reopening the river for snap net fishing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8337/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

532. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the salmon stock levels on the rivers Barrow and Suir; the conservation limits of salmon on the rivers; the effect this information has on projecting stock levels on the rivers; the possible future date for the reopening the rivers for fishing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8338/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

533. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the 2014 snap net salmon fishing licences for the rivers Nore and Suir remain valid; if holders of these licences have an entitlement to fish should the rivers reopen for fishing of this nature in the near future; the process for the application and issuing of licences for snap net salmon fishing on the rivers Nore and Suir should the rivers reopen for fishing in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8339/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

534. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if an independent review by independent marine economists will be commissioned to investigate the possibility of reopening of the rivers Nore and Suir for snap net salmon fishing and the potential for a heritage fisheries pilot scheme on the rivers Barrow, Nore and Suir; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8342/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 531 to 534, inclusive, together.

Since 2007, Ireland manages salmon stocks on an individual river basis as each of Ireland’s 147 salmon rivers (including river sections and estuaries) has its own genetically unique stock of salmon. Juvenile salmon from each river migrate to sea as juveniles and return to their natal river to spawn and create the next generation of fish unique to that river.

Management is carried out by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). IFI is supported in its management role by scientific advice from Ireland’s independent Technical Expert Group on Salmon (TEGOS), comprising scientists from a range of organisations. IFI also has to have regard to EU legislation, particularly the Habitats Directive under which salmon habitats are protected. In that regard, given the established scientific advice, the issue of further review does not arise.

Scientific and management assessments of each of the distinct stocks, including the Suir, Nore and Barrow, are carried out every year with IFI engaged in extensive stock monitoring which feeds into the Scientific Group's annual reviews. An average of the 5 years' data is used to estimate expected returns for the coming year to ensure that a good or bad year does not have a disproportionate impact on the assessment in any single year.

It is not possible to definitively predict the projected opening dates for any individual river. Responsible management demands that rivers are only open to harvest, by either angling or commercial means, once a sustainable harvestable surplus, sufficiently in excess of the individual conservation limit for each river, is identified. The annual assessment process is based on up to date information to determine the status of each river and to inform fisheries management. The conservation limit is the number of adult spawning fish required to sustain a healthy population in the river.

The following table sets out the percentage Conservation Limit achieved on the Rivers Barrow, Suir and Nore 2013 to 2019:

Year

River Barrow

(CL - 11,738)

River Suir

(CL - 14,055)

River Nore (CL 10,420)

year

% Conservation Limit (CL) achieved

% Conservation Limit (CL) achieved

% Conservation Limit (CL) achieved

2019

16%

102%

80%

2018

17%

100%

77%

2017

18%

79%

70%

2016

18%

68%

60%

2015

17%

80%

91%

2014

29%

83%

121%

2013

29%

117%

153%

The issue of heritage activity is a matter for the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Conscientious management of Ireland’s salmon rivers must primarily concentrate on the availability of a sustainable resource and all activity which involves the taking of fish is permitted and delimited based on this conservation imperative.

Licensing of commercial fishing, including snap net fishing, is based on the most recent track record of the participants/applicants. Consideration of such track records can obviously only reference the years in which the rivers were open to harvest and the closure of a river does not impact the issuing of licences in this manner.

I will provide a copy of the most recent Wild Salmon and Seatrout Statistics report compiled by IFI which includes commercial and angling catch statistics from 2001 to 2017. These statistics are indicative of wild salmon abundance and stock trends for all rivers in this period. I have also asked IFI to prepare a detailed briefing note on the rivers Suir, Nore and Barrow which I will forward to the Deputy shortly.